A republican memorial in Derry to the 1981 hunger strikers is the biggest illegal monument in the North according to a Stormont department.
The revelation comes after a Freedom of Information request showed that according to the Department of Regional Development (DRD) in Belfast, there a total of 33 ‘illegal’ monuments or memorials across Northern Ireland linked to both republican and loyalist paramilitary organisations.
Two of these are sitauted in the Derry and Strabane areas, both of which commemorate members of the Provisional IRA.
According to the DRD, the largest is the H-Block memorial on Rossville Street in the city which stands on a plot which is 142 metres square in size.
The Strabane monument is on the Mourne Bridge in the town and another ‘illegal’ IRA memorial is listed at Corick Road in Dungiven,
When asked for a list of what it deemed to be illegal monuments the DRD stressed that it did not support the erection of any such structure but said: “The Department reluctantly operates a ‘toleration’ policy regarding illegal roadside memorials.
“Unless such structures pose a danger to road users, or there is a clear indication that removing them would have widespread local support, no immediate action will generally be taken.”
The DRD was asked to identify all illegal republican and loyalist memorials by blog site, ‘Beyond the Pillars’. The Department responded by listing a total of 33 constructions across the whole of Northern Ireland.
Four of those named by the DRD are actually contained on private land in South Armagh, whilst two are present on Housing Executive land in Newry.
In fact the majority of these monuments, numbering 17 in total,are situated in the Newry and Mourne area.
Outside of the immediate Derry and Strabane area, seven memorials are listed in the Omagh west and Fermanagh districts.
One is listed as being at Srcibe Road in Bellaghy, County Derry and another is listed as being in the car park of Ardboe Parish Hall in County Tyrone. According to DRD figures in 2009 the list of what are deemed to be illegal memorials numbered 31 so the current list shows an increase of two in the last seven years.
The H-Block memorial in Derry at the Junction of rossville Street and Fahan Street was erected in memory of the ten hunger strikers who died in 1981 five of which came from the city and county of Derry.